When you ask most agents about OSCRE, the Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate, the ones who are aware of it think of it as a data standards for property information. The expectation is that eventually they’ll come up with a data standard just like the residential industry has so we’ll all be able to find and use consistent property data.
But OSCRE goes beyond standardizing property data. Its stated purpose is “the development, synthesis, and adoption of e-business standards that enable the real estate industry to function effectively and efficiently.” No mention of data at all, though data is behind those e-business standards they’re trying to develop.
The goal of e-business is to electronically transmit and manage as much data and as many processes as you can. Why? Because it lowers the cost of doing business. Plus, it has the potential to allow for better statistics and comparison/analysis if industry data collection and definitions are, for the most part, standardized.
Electronic data standards have their root in the late 1960’s as a response to a proliferation of computer systems at large companies. While the benefits of these systems alone were great, it quickly became clear that using standardized formats for these systems would allow easier “communication” between companies in the purchasing process.
Several industry organizations were formed to create these standards but many large companies, particularly in the automotive industry, created their own private schemas. In the automotive industry, all suppliers were required to adopt the standards so if they were supplying to multiple companies, they needed multiple systems that communicated directly with each company’s system. Plenty of suppliers, unable to keep up, went out of business. Eventually, the Automotive Industry Action Group stepped in to create uniform auto-industry standards.
So you can look at OSCRE as the AIAG for the CRE industry. With OSCRE standards, any brokerage would be able to exchange data electronically with financial institutions, developers, REITs or any of those large clients that adopts the standards. It also means that any brokerage who wants to do business with those entities needs to have a system that can do that – communicate electronically.
Standards have been created for property information exchange and though many aggregators support the standard, the bottleneck is at the brokerage level who need to bring their systems up to speed. There’s not much “talking” going on between servers right now. But in the larger scheme of things, listing data is minor. The focus is on transaction standardization. Some of the areas with existing standards or where standards are being created for include the leasing process, appraisals and investment reporting (see all here).
I was at RealComm several years ago attending a presentation on CRE technology. Client portals and War Rooms were popular at the time though several agents in the crowd dismissed them saying their clients required the use of their own systems. One of the speakers acknowledged those complaints, saying that CRE had missed the opportunity to control the transaction. That’s what OSCRE hopes to remedy. CRE may not be able to control the transaction anymore but at least they’ll be an active partner in creating an electronic data exchange system for it.